Friday, May 10, 2019

‘Placeless’ by Masha & Marjan Vahdat and the Kronos Quartet

10 May 2019

Of the many performances I have seen at the WOMAD Festival over the past fifteen years, one that has stuck in my memory was two sisters from Iran, Masha and Marjan Vahdat, who I saw at the 2014 festival (reviewed here in August 2014). Masha and Marjan Vahdat break Iranian law every time they perform in front of an audience that includes men, but proudly continue to do so around the world. Their haunting voices – usually taking turns to sing solo, only occasionally duetting – are both powerful and melancholic. I was fascinated to discover that they have now recorded an album with the Kronos Quartet – who feature on my favourite world music/string quartet collaboration  on the Malian singer Rokia Traoré’s 2003 album ‘Bowmboi’ (which I have written about here in December 2007 and September 2016). ‘Placeless’ is a collection of songs written by Mahsa Vahdat, with lyrics by the classic poets Rumi and Hafez as well as three contemporary writers. The Kronos Quartet provide an unobtrusive accompaniment to the sisters’ voices. It’s a beautiful, thoughtful, serious collection which blends Western classical music with the Iranian vocals. ‘Placeless’ is part of a bigger Kronos Quartet plan to highlight music from the seven Muslim-majority nations affected by President Trump’s US travel ban. You can see a video of one of the tracks from the album at:

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